Wasmannia auropunctata Identification Key

This is a simple dichotomous (paired choice) key designed for identification of a particular pest species in the Hawaiian Islands: Wasmannia auropunctata, the "little fire ant." At each step, you will be confronted with a choice of two options. Follow the links from the option that most accurately describes your ant specimen. The process will conclude either when these characteristics have definitively excluded the little fire ant as a possibility, or when you have specimens that closely resemble Wasmannia. If you come to this latter possibility, you should confirm your identification with an expert. This is very important information because this ant may become a major pest to our lifestyle and the biodiversity of the Hawaiian Islands if it is allowed to spread unchecked.

Bear in mind that this resource is intended as a simple way to determine if a particular specimen is, or is not, Wasmannia auropunctata. It will not provide identifications of any other species. The key is designed for use with the most common colony members, the worker ants, but it will also work for soldiers (in Hawai`i, all species with soldiers have much larger heads than the workers). If you have winged alates (reproductive males or the queen) the key will not be accurate.

Efforts to provide an online key for all known ant species in the Hawaiian Islands are ongoing. Please check back regularly or contact Dan Gruner for more information.

If you are unsure what an ant looks like, please visit this website from Australia.

Go to the Wasmannia Key
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This key was created by Ellen VanGelder and Dan Gruner, using images from Bolton (1994) and from the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture.